Watch out… soon GPs will ban patients altogether!
The NHS should be renamed care Not Holidays, Saturday or Sundays
If you’re going to get sick, please can you try to plan it well in advance, preferably before 5pm, Monday to Friday?
In the modern NHS (which should be renamed care Not Holidays, Saturday or Sundays) getting to see our local GP at a time when it suits us rather than them has become a pipe-dream, like finding a parking space you don’t have to pay for by mobile phone, or bagging a trolley at the supermarket when you haven’t got a pound coin.
A&E departments are in meltdown, swamped with an extra million people a year (compared with three years ago). They can’t see their local doctor since new contracts in 2004 gave them a 45 per cent pay increase and allowed GPs to opt out of working unsocial hours.
Worse, after sitting patiently in a queue in casualty for hours in the evening or weekend, there’s a one in five chance the person who sees you will be a junior doctor with just a few months’ experience.
Many have not been long in the UK, are on short-term contracts, have limited English, and certainly no knowledge of any of your family history.
Many consultants and senior doctors, like GPs, don’t work at night. Millions of us have lost faith in out-of-hours helplines, run by private companies who use nurses instead of doctors, and would rather take pot luck at hospital instead.
The Health Department reckons that 93 per cent of doctor’s surgeries in England are not open when it is convenient for patients – but what have they done about it? Nothing.
The Care Quality Commission says emergency wards can’t cope. The body which represents A&E doctors agrees. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt blames GPs.
But even when you are lucky enough get to see your family doctor, in the over-stretched, reconfigured cost-efficient NHS, it’s a dispiriting experience.
First, they hardly look at you, and stare at their computer screen. They spend your precious few minutes of face-to-face time typing in information and reading stuff online.
When you have blood tests you have to ring up a couple of days later and speak to the over-worked receptionist, who will tell you if the results are normal or not. That’s a medically unqualified secretary who has a line of patients waiting for appointments and prescriptions standing right in front of her.
If you require a follow-up appointment, then you will have to go through the ridiculous procedure of bagging a convenient slot all over again.
Recently, my arthritis medication was altered, and the new drug requires blood tests for three months, but I was told they couldn’t be put in my diary now as the surgery doesn’t work that far in advance!
When I asked for a printout of my last blood tests, I was told I couldn’t obtain them online as so many were done every day. I have been given a password to log in and order repeat prescriptions, but I can’t communicate directly with my doctor online about changing anything. This is half-baked: either you use the internet properly as a service to patients, or not.
A friend was worried that the whites of her eyes looked slightly yellow, which could mean – although she felt ok – she was suffering from a serious liver complaint, or hepatitis.
She waited days for her appointment, and then was disgusted when the GP (whom she’d never seen before) looked up ‘yellow eyes’ on Google in front of her!
Recently, Mike Farrar, head of the NHS Confederation, told a committee of MPs that he thought patients should email their doctors with their symptoms to free up surgery time. Labour MP Valerie Vaz said: ‘I thought medicine was based on observation.’
In fact, wouldn’t doctors’ surgeries run better if we just Googled our own symptoms and sent an email to the GP for a second opinion? (Only joking).
Another sign that patients are regarded as stumbling blocks to efficiency is a controversial policy document on the Conservative Policy Forum website, an organisation chaired by Oliver Letwin and backed by party co-chairman Grant Shapps, which asks party activists to vote on various proposals to make the NHS more ‘efficient’.
To my horror, they ask if it’s a good or bad idea to limit the number of visits we can make to GPs in a year, and whether appointments at weekends and evenings are ‘a luxury the country cannot afford’. Another gem asks whether ‘families should take care of their infirm relatives’.
This website plays an important part in determining the Conservative Party manifesto – so you have been warned.
It’s perfectly plain that the NHS of the future would run so much better without us, the annoying patients who clog up doctors’ surgeries and A&E units.
Family doctors provide a service we pay for – increasingly, it’s one that suits them, rather than their customers.
100 patients a day wait an hour in an ambulance before they reach A&E
Up to 100 patients a day are being forced to wait more than an hour in ambulances outside overstretched A&E units.
More than 37,000 people needing urgent treatment were held in so-called ambulance ‘jams’ last year – with delays of up to four hours recorded at some hospitals.
The latest number is more than double the 14,580 who waited to be admitted in 2010-11, despite official guidelines that say patients should be handed over to medical staff within 15 minutes of arrival.
Even the number of those stuck in ambulances for 30 minutes have increased – from 99,661 three years ago to 193,088 last year.
The delays in treatment come as many A&E departments are struggling to cope with a surge in patient numbers.
Chaos in out-of-hours care and the botched launch of the Government’s 111 non-emergency number have also been accused of pushing many hospitals to breaking point.
Earlier this year, staff at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s emergency unit were so stretched they erected a tent in a car park to act as a makeshift ward.
And in a leaked letter last week, 20 senior A&E doctors warned they could no longer guarantee safe care for patients.
Jamie Reed, Labour’s health spokesman, said hospitals had reached ‘crisis point’.
‘The collapse of social care, which means older people cannot be discharged back home, the failure of the new 111 helpline service, more than 4,000 nurses cut since the General Election and walk-in centre closures are all piling pressure onto A&E departments,’ he said.
‘The result is patients waiting longer for treatment, being left on trolleys and unable to be transferred to wards because the beds are occupied.
‘David Cameron is taking the NHS backwards, with ambulances queuing outside A&E and one hospital even having to erect a tent to receive patients.’
Last week, NHS Confederation boss Mike Farrar also said emergency care was in a ‘state of crisis’ and called for patients to be able to email their GP instead of going to see them.
However, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has blamed the problem on GPs giving up responsibility for out-of-hours care and allowing care to be provided by unreliable private firms.
The number of patients who waited longer than four hours in A&E has almost tripled in four years, from 344,772 in 2009-10 to 888,289 last year, NHS figures reveal.
Casualty units have been told to treat 95 per cent of patients within four hours, but almost a third of trusts failed to meet the target.
An NHS England spokesman said: ‘While more than 90 per cent of A&E patients are seen within this time, waiting an average of 53 minutes, a high number of patients are still waiting longer than we would want. ‘There is no single cause or factor that can explain longer waits in A&E departments and issues vary from hospital to hospital.’
A Department of Health spokesman said the NHS is ‘coping well’ after the number of casualty patients rose by a million in three years.
‘Patients shouldn’t face excessive waits for treatment and we expect NHS England to take action to address ambulance handover times, including fining trusts when there are delays of 30 minutes or more,’ he said.
School league tables: privately-educated British pupils ‘better prepared for top universities’
The extent to which private school pupils are being prepared for places at elite universities was laid bare today in new-style league tables showing how they dominate top grades in core academic subjects.
For the first time, data shows how many teenagers are leaving schools and colleges in England with good A-levels in a range of core disciplines seen as a vital stepping stone to sought-after Russell Group institutions.
It emerged that 150 out of the top 200 schools in the new table are from the fee-paying sector.
St Paul’s Girls’ School in west London and Magdalen College School in Oxford saw 70 per cent of 18-year-olds reach the standard – the highest proportion in the country.
At the same time, around a quarter of sixth-forms – almost all from the state sector – failed to produce a single pupil with good A-levels in a range of academic subjects such as maths, English, science and foreign languages.
The results are likely to tighten private school pupils’ grip in places at leading universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and University College London which demand a string of top grades as a basic entry requirement.
It also appears to reinforce universities’ claims that the dominance of independently-educated students is a reflection of academic standards in schools – and not discrimination by admissions tutors.
The disclosure comes after universities were told to set tough targets to increase the proportion of pupils admitted from “under-represented groups” including poorly-performing state schools. Around half of members of the Russell Group set themselves a state school admissions target.
Tim Hands, the master of Magdalen College School, welcomed the figures but warned against the use of narrow performance measures.
“Of course it’s right to ensure the right pupils get access to the right subjects and then on to the right university destinations,” he said.
“Independent schools, not least because they are less subject to Government interference, have a greater chance of doing this, as the table makes very clear.
“However, suddenly inventing this new competitive measure is yet another unnecessary political initiative and a further misuse of league tables. There is a danger of making many pupils who want artistic, vocational or practical qualifications feel further undervalued.”
Wendy Piatt, director-general of the Russell Group, said: “We agree A-level choices really matter. Too few students realise that some subjects and subject combinations can keep open wider degree course options at leading universities.
“However, it would be wrong to use this simple indicator as a measure of the number of pupils in a school who are qualified to apply successfully to a Russell Group university.”
Today’s performance tables show how many students get two As and a B at A-level in key subjects – maths and further maths, English literature, physics, biology, chemistry, geography, history and modern and classical languages. Data relates to more than 2,500 schools teaching A-levels in England.
It follows the publication of research by the Russell Group showing that students taking academic disciplines are much more likely to win places.
But figures show that 600 – one-in-four – did not produce a single pupil with good A-level grades in these subjects. Just 60 were from the independent sector.
Three-quarters of the 200 leading schools were from the independent sector, including seven in the top 10.
Aside from St Paul’s Girls’ School and Magdalen College School, the other fee-paying schools in the top 10 were: Concord College in Shrewsbury, the Stephen Perse Foundation in Cambridge, St Paul’s Boys’ School in west London, Wycombe Abbey School in High Wycombe, the Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton and St Swithun’s School in Winchester.
Queen Elizabeth’s grammar school in Barnet was the top performing state school with 65 per cent of pupils hitting the A-level target. Colchester Royal Grammar School in Essex and the Henrietta Barnett School, north London, were also listed in the top 10.
Figures also show a drop in the overall A-level pass-rate nationally.
The percentage of students who achieved passes equivalent to at least two A-levels decreased from 94.1 to 93.6 per cent in 12 months. The proportion of teenagers with three or more A*/A passes was down from 13.1 to 12.8 per cent, it emerged.
Stephen Twigg, the Shadow Education Secretary, said: “The decline in results at A-level and the fact that many pupils do not get the top grades for university is worrying.
“With 10,000 teachers having left the profession, and leading universities warning that the Government’s exam changes will jeopardise fair access to universities, David Cameron is putting social mobility is at risk.”
London Police Took 20 Min to Respond to Muslim Beheading, But Quickly Arrest 85-Year-Old British Woman for Islamophobia
Priorities, priorities. Witnesses claim it took London police 20 minutes to show up and stop the two Muslim killers. The official police narrative is something like 9 minutes for the unarmed police and 14 minutes for the armed police (those crazy Americans with their guns everywhere, really.)
But when it comes to something truly serious, like protecting Muslims from elderly British women, then the coppers were on the case.
“An 85-year-old woman has this afternoon been arrested after abuse was hurled at Muslims outside Gillingham Mosque. The pensioner was handcuffed and taken away in a van by officers attending the Canterbury Street mosque for Friday prayers. As worshippers gathered outside the venue, a woman at a nearby bus stop shouted: “go back to your own country”.
The arrested woman, from the Maidstone Road area of Chatham, was taken away by officers at about 1.45pm and is now in police custody. A Kent Police spokesman said: “An 85 year old woman from Chatham was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.”
This woman survived WW2 and presumably learned all the wrong lessons about resisting fascism. But if she had been a Muslim beheading a British soldier, she could have just strolled away while the police took 20 minutes to come around.
And the same police that could not be bothered, when it came to protecting Muslims from angry Britons shouting things, then no expense was spared and no time wasted.
An extra 1,200 police officers were deployed on the streets of London after an impromptu English Defence League protest descended into violence in Woolwich, south-east London, following Wednesday’s terrorist attack.
EDL leader Tommy Robinson, was among a group of around 250 men, who gathered in Woolwich near the scene of the terror attack, chanting anti-Islamic slogans.
Mr Robinson told supporters: “They’re chopping our soldiers’ heads off. This is Islam. That’s what we’ve seen today.”
He added: “They’ve cut one of our Army’s heads off on the streets of London. Our next generation are being taught through schools that Islam is a religion of peace. It’s not. It never has been. What you saw today is Islam.
Well that’s a crisis. People are speaking the truth. Can’t have that.
If two Muslims butcher a soldier in broad daylight, the police will one day show up. But if 250 men chant that this sort of butchery represents Islam, then 1,200 officers have to be sent in to keep the peace. And by peace, we mean Islam.
In Bristol two men were detained following allegedly racist messages that appeared on Twitter following the terrorist murder. A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said two men aged 22 and 23 were being questioned over the incident.
He said: “The men were arrested under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred. They are currently in custody. Our enquiries into these comments continue.”
If the authorities had been similarly motivated to take in Muslims who incite racial and religious hated in the name of Islam, the attack in London would never have happened.
But why bother learning any lessons? Just shoot the messenger.
The spokesman added: “These comments were directed against a section of our community. Comments such as these are completely unacceptable and only cause more harm to our community in Bristol. “People should stop and think about what they say on social media before making statements as the consequences could be serious.”
Yes, do stop and think. You wouldn’t want to end up in jail for asking why the authorities are ignoring Muslim terrorism.
British guilty of disguised anti-Semitism, says Israeli minister
A senior Israeli government minister has attacked British attitudes towards his country as “disguised anti-Semitism” and said that Britain was more hostile towards the Jewish state than other Western countries.
In frank comments on the eve of a visit to the Holy Land by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence and strategic affairs minister and a confidant of Benjamin Netanyahu, voiced fears about British “animosities” towards his country.
Speaking exclusively to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Steinitz suggested that there was growing antagonism – taking the form of hostile media coverage, “incitement” and boycott campaigns – and intimated that a less friendly attitude may be being reflected in official Britsh policy.
He also issued a coded warning to Mr Hague and other Western statesman against lecturing Israel about Jewish settlement building in the West Bank, which the Foreign Secretary has repeatedly condemned.
Asked if Britain was still a “friend of Israel”, Mr Steinitz replied: “It’s difficult to say. Traditionally we had good relations with Britain and currently we have good intelligence cooperation with Britain and it’s very successful.
[But] we are concerned about the relations, about what we see as some animosities, some incitement in Britain, in the media, made by NGOs [non-governmental organisation] against Israel. I hope we will be able to use [Mr Hague’s] visit to improve relations.”
He pointed to campaigns calling for boycotts of Israeli products, academics and universities – a movement which recently saw Prof Stephen Hawking, the renowned British physicist, withdraw from a conference hosted by Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, next month in protest at the occupation of the West Bank.
Expressing “disappointment” at Prof Hawking’s decision, Mr Steinitz said: “I didn’t hear that Prof Hawking or other British academics, who are so easily boycotting Israel, are boycotting other Middle East countries. Or if they have reservations about America invading Iraq, they so easily boycott American universities. So some Israelis feel that there is some kind of double standards.
“The fact that Israel is treated differently, the fact that some people can say so easily, let’s do something against Israel, let’s boycott Israel, let’s boycott Israeli products, this is some kind of disguised anti-Semitism. In past times people said that they are against the Jews. Now, especially after the Holocaust, nobody says that they are against the Jews, but people are against the Jewish state.”
Mr Steinitz – a former finance minister – said British perceptions of Israel were more negative than those of other Western or European countries and drew comparison with popular sentiment in the US, Canada and Australia.
“There should not be much difference between people in America, Canada, Britain and Australia,” he said. “[They have] the same language, very similar cultures. And still in America, Canada, in Australia in opinion polls, most citizens support Israel with a very warm feeling. In Britain it is much less.
“When you think that all four are Anglo-Saxon democracies, why should people in America, Australia or Canada have different relations to or appreciations of the minuscule Jewish state than the people of Britain? Just recently, there was a very general poll in the United States. The support for Israel in the United States was stronger than ever. I’m not confident that this is the case with Britain as well.”
Asked if this difference in attitude might be reflected in the Foreign Office or in Government policy, he replied: “This might be the case.”
Anti-Semitism existed in Britain to a “certain extent”, he added, manifesting itself in negative attitudes to the Jewish state.
Widely believed to be Mr Netanyahu’s favoured choice as Israel’s next foreign minister, Mr Steinitz was almost certainly reflecting his boss’s views. One official close to the prime minister has told The Daily Telegraph that Mr Netanyahu views British public opinion towards Israel as “very tough”.
Mr Steinitz insisted that he was not accusing Mr Hague or other British ministers who had criticised Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank of anti-Semitism, saying this was a “legitimate view”.
“Not every kind of criticism is anti-Semitism,” he said. “I didn’t say that any criticism of Israel was anti-Semitic or unfair even. If somebody has some criticism of Israel, this is one thing. The same person can also have some criticism of his own country.
“But if somebody is following criticism of Israel and becoming anti-Israeli, saying ‘I’m ready to cooperate with Israel’s enemies or boycott Israel, or Israelis or Israeli academia or Israeli institutions’, this is something different.”
But he rejected the view – voiced by Mr Hague and other Western statesman – that continued settlement building threatened to torpedo chances of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
“I think those allegations about the settlements are fundamentally wrong. To come to Israel and say why are you doing this and this, this is totally wrong,” Mr Steinitz said. He cited the dismantling of settlements in Sinai in Egypt after the 1979 Camp David accords as proof that Israel would uproot settlers in return for genuine peace.